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Trainer’s Tip: Active Listening and Questioning Exercises

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Rich Lucas submitted these two exercises to help develop managers' communication skills for conducting appraisals.


One way to emphasise questioning skills is firstly play a game of "guess who" around the table, you think of a famous person and go around the table taking a closed question off everyone eg "Are you a man" etc. This will take a while and it's not uncommon for you to go around the table two or three times. Hence illustrating the point that closed questions will get you nowhere if you want to gain information.

Then pair your group off and have them open question each other for one minute each way (one person questions for a minute and then the other) ask them to find out something they didn't know about their partner. Then point out how much they found out in a short period of time compared to the amount of time it took to find out one piece of information using closed questions.

To demonstrate active listening, I just get them all into an active listening pose, which is leaning forward in their chair, with their heads tilted very slightly to the right. This always creates a bit of a laugh because we all do it together but illustrate to your group that if they think about it, when they are really interested in something, they'll adopt something similar to this pose naturally, and doing this exercise just heightens their awareness to it.

Its like when you cover the function of the lungs in Biology at school, you suddenly become aware of your breathing pattern!

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